Developing a Framework for a Green Economy: Strategies to Builds More Inclusive and Equitable Prosperity

Your Excellency Ms. Yoo Young-Sook,
Minister of Environment of the Republic of Korea,

Excellencies,

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Introduction

The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, has expressed the challenge of Rio+20 as the creation of a new, better model for 21st century economies. In his words: “With smart public policies, governments can grow their economies, alleviate poverty, create decent jobs and accelerate social progress in a way that respects the earth's finite natural resources.”

It is my great pleasure therefore, to share some perspectives this evening from the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), on the important theme of developing a possible framework for a green economy.

Our region has seen rapid economic growth over the past few decades, lifting tens of millions out of poverty. But we have also felt the impact of the financial crisis and the high price of fuel, food and other commodities. These have been further compounded by devastating natural disasters and climate change – and our poorest, most vulnerable countries, have been hardest hit.

The Asia-Pacific experience has shown that we cannot hope to burn and consume our way to prosperity. The resource- and carbon-intensive, environmentally damaging, and socially-inequitable development path is becoming a dead end.

Greener economies are smarter economies – they approach resource and climate crises as opportunities to generate economic, social and environmental gains.

The big question of course is how best do countries implement green development strategies in a way that builds more inclusive and equitable prosperity, helping the millions who still live in poverty and easing the pressures on our over-stretched ecosystems? The Asia-Pacific region is already taking important steps towards answering this question.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

Asia-Pacific Green Economy Leadership

Green growth was first adopted as a key Asia-Pacific strategy to achieve sustainable development at the fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in 2005.

In August 2008, President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea became the first political leader to declare low carbon green growth as a national vision and strategy - and subsequently set up a comprehensive institutional and legal framework to implement it in his country.

Since then, the Republic of Korea has been very active in helping other countries to develop green economy strategies through their support of capacity building programmes under the Seoul Initiative on Green Growth, which is implemented by ESCAP.

This side event, jointly organized by ESCAP and the Republic of Korea, aims to promote examples of green growth policies in the region and is another example of the great partnership we have built. I want to take this opportunity to express our thanks to the Government of Korea, for the strength of this partnership.

Many other countries have also developed their own versions of green economic policies and strategies including Cambodia, China, Indonesia and Kazakhstan. More still are seeking advice and support to develop similar policies and programmes – and there is much work still ahead, especially for our least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and Small Island developing States.

In order to support member States in their efforts to green their economies, ESCAP, with the support of the Republic of Korea, has recently released its Low Carbon Green Growth Roadmap for Asia and the Pacific.

Our Roadmap shows the road that has already been travelled and explores the opportunities that a greener growth path can offer through a transformation of economic systems. It includes a comprehensive list of policy options, practical implementation strategies, and examples of successful practices woven through more than 100 fact sheets and case studies. These case studies are concrete examples undertaken by various national governments using the concept of low carbon green growth as a tool in their own ways.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

Green Economies Must Ensure Greater Social Equity

As important as greener economies are, they must be seen in the context of the broader objectives of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

The greening of growth cannot alone solve the root causes of poverty. Green growth strategies must be integrated with inclusive social policies that ensure the fair distribution of the costs and benefits of such growth.

In conclusion, it is the hope of the Asia-Pacific region, expressed through the Seoul Outcome in preparation for Rio+20, that this summit will stimulate a global partnership for sustainable development. We must develop an action-oriented, forward-looking, consensus-based and inclusive outcome, as well as consensus that the green economy must be based on the three pillars of sustainable development, supported by international commitments to finance and technology. Only then can it be a strategy to sustain growth for poverty eradication.

As the regional arm of the United Nations in Asia and the Pacific, ESCAP stands ready to assist countries of the region, but also to build green bridges between regions, with the goal of achieving more inclusive and sustainable shared prosperity.

I thank you.